Posted by Erdem Gorgun at

Moving to the UK from Australia, Christen Pears and Chris Blake had a pretty clear idea of what they wanted from their new home. ‘We were specifically looking for a property with holiday cottages,’ says Christen. ‘I travelled ahead of Chris with an agreed list of nine properties to view in Cornwall and Devon. But that search stopped short after the very first viewing. This house ticked so many boxes and felt so right, I just knew it was meant to be.’ Cancelling the other viewings was a bold move, especially for a house that wasn’t the classic Georgian property Christen had thought she wanted. ‘I love that look but this house, although lacking in period features, had the cottages we wanted, space for a Pilates studio and an amazing garden,’ she says. The previous owner had renovated much of the house, but some parts of the property still needed attention. ‘The floors upstairs weren’t great and the old conservatory was held on with duct tape and had greenery growing through it,’ says Christen. ‘It involved a bit more work than we anticipated.’ A new extension resolved the wobbly conservatory and gave the couple space for an extra bathroom, too. ‘We’ve done our best to preserve the few original features that were here, and beyond that, we’ve tried to respect the house in our choices, reusing materials and running with a rustic feel.’ Christen took time to create a palette of soft, warm greys that worked in the predominately open-plan space. And while the couple have filled their home with mid-century classics, they have chosen from the rustic end of the spectrum, selecting chunkier styling and sticking with natural materials, such as leather and wood. The result is homely and inviting. Even the practical spaces have modern-rustic charm. Top of Christen’s wish list was a pantry, but they found space for a much larger scullery. ‘The scullery is great for keeping all the mess out of the open-plan kitchen when we’re entertaining,’ she says. They reused parts of the old kitchen to create the scullery, painting it a fresh shade of green. Repurposing materials not only helped keep costs down, but also created a relaxed and timeless look. A spacious downstairs cupboard was built from old floorboards and, out in the barn, Christen’s ever-growing book collection is housed on shelving made from scaffold boards. Although the barn was one of the selling points for Christen, it wasn’t in good condition. ‘The lower walls are granite and the top part is cob, so that needed completely redoing, using traditional methods and lime plaster. But it gave us a chance to put in a massive fireplace,’ says Christen. The asbestos and polycarbonate roof was also removed and salvaged beams were fitted. Before starting the work on their own house, the couple completely renovated the three cottages, plus the barn and the studio to get their businesses up and running. ’Doing things that way round gave us time to get to know the space and understand what works – you can’t overestimate the importance of that.’ To stay at one of the cottages, visit



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